Smoke machines, sex and swagger. This was an appropriate combo and intro to a riff-tastic and incendiary set by Queens of the Stone Age which on this tour stop, celebrated the re-release of their long out of print self titled 1998 debut. Lead metal guru and poster boy Josh Homme started the show with an axe strapped saunter to the mic, reveling in the haze of a sold out show. With a boozy smirk and a well kept ginger mohawk-meets- mullet, he plunged into the massive fuzzed- out purr of “Regular John” and three thousand fists punched for sky.
As the tight band of bros. behind him collectively caught their breath (none of whom played on the debut), Mr. Homme paused to proclaim “Welcome to our first album.” Little did anyone but the chain- walleted fanboys know, that the band was about to play the obscenely overlooked album in its entirety.
The album, which on repeated listens reminds one of an illicit scene in the back of a shag carpeted van buried in sweat and smoke, was fantastically recreated by seasoned Queens players Troy Van Leeuwen on guitar in his traditional shiny suit and drummer Joey Castillo(Wasted Youth, Danzig). They along with Dean Fertita on keys and the swivel –necked bassist Michael Shuman, crushed renditions of “Avon” and “If Only” into desert metal fairy dust which floated over the frothing front rows.
Although Josh seemed a bit sluggish, dance weary and sex hung over, his guitar prowess and untouchable tone were spot on and deadly. How he remains under- discussed in the realm of modern rock axe legends is a nervous head scratcher, for sure. He comes off as a conquistador of chords, having spent years trolling the high desert for the right riff, stopping for cigarette breaks in between dust storms.
The surprising highlight of the show was a one two death punch of “How to Handle a Rope” and “Mexicola”, two wicked rolls of pulse and thunder from the middle of the album. The rabid, blood burning energy of the sweaty house would have made one think that the nearest meth lab had given out free samples with ticket stubs.
Queens of the Stone Age seem to always slay with substance no matter who shows up to play, and on this evening, we were dead and gone in the beauty of the buzz.